Managing disciplinary, grievance or workplace relationship issues

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We can’t really have a series of case studies without talking about the disciplinary, grievance and workplace relationship situations, which we are frequently asked to get involved with. However as these are sensitive matters for all concerned we feel it is appropriate only to speak in general terms about the advice and support we provide.

Through our work with you (or from another source) you should have procedures and arrangements in place to deal with:

  • disciplinary issues relating to conduct,
  • grievances procedure from employees who have concerns about their terms and conditions of employment, and
  • complaints about harassment or bullying.

Why documentation isn’t always enough

We took a call one day from a client who said:

“I know I have the procedures but it’s much easier to ring you and talk to you because you might see things differently and stop me making a mess of things”.

Having the right documents in place is one thing but dealing with situations in which emotions on both sides can be running high is something else. That’s why having access to a knowledgeable, experienced HR professional just adds that extra reassurance of having someone alongside you, someone who can see things objectively and who knows how to use the procedures effectively.

We’ve also worked with several individual employees asking for our guidance on how to approach a situation at work which is causing them difficulties. They knew there were procedures on their employer’s Intranet but they were neither comfortable nor confident in their abilities to tackle a situation themselves, and without support. As one client said:

“Collins Green has recently helped me with a difficult situation at work in which I felt trapped and wronged and could not see any way forward. [They] very quickly got to the root of my problem and through [their] professional understanding of the situation and [their] encouragement [they] enabled me to confidently seek and secure a solution which was acceptable to both me and my employer”.

Two classic situations and feedback which confirms that the face to face service we provide to our clients is invaluable in resolving difficult situations fairly and effectively.

The Collins Green Solutions

In 30 years we’ve come across, and helped deal with, a wide range of issues

We have been involved in all manner of discussions covering matters such as misuse of business purchasing cards, organised theft at checkouts, inappropriate behaviour in back office environments, persistent lateness, breach of health and safety rules, work overload and inappropriate deadlines, expenses fiddles, unauthorised absences from work, bullying by a colleague, employees being under the influence of alcohol at work, violent behaviour on the premises and an array of situations where the individual is deemed not to be doing their job properly.

Scoping out the problem gives you a sense of reassurance and control

When we receive any requests from clients for help in matters such as these our first job is to gather information about the situation and give some guidance on how we believe the situation is best handled and through which procedure. We know this conversation also provides our clients with relief and reassurance that they now have the situation more under control and that we are there to guide them through the process.

Managing the situation at an appropriate pace

When it comes to matters of discipline, grievance or bullying it is more than likely that other employees will know that something is amiss and they will be watching and waiting to find out how the situation is resolved; they will also come to a view on whether they feel the outcome is fair and whether you have done what they consider to be the right thing.

Whatever the situation we realise that our response needs to be provided at an appropriate pace so that our clients are not left feeling that a situation is dragging on; equally we have always advised our clients to work also at an appropriate pace so that they can be sure they have all the facts they need and the they are in an appropriate frame of mind to deal with the matter in hand.

Top tips

  • Refer to your policies and procedures when a grievance, disciplinary or relationship matter arises
  • Pick up the phone to Collins Green for help on how to apply your policies and procedures under the specific circumstances
  • Be reassured that an informal solution might exist
  • Deal with things in a timely manner and recognise how quickly or even slowly things need to happen
  • Remember that as well as resolving a workplace issue you want to move the working relationships and people involved forward in a positive way

Our solutions deliver positive outcomes in difficult circumstances

So what happens next? As we said at the start of this case study we don’t believe it is right to go into details of the cases we have been involved with but what we can say is that we have:

  • coached clients on how to hold informal yet productive discussions
  • acted as mediators to enable issues to be aired and to help individuals rebuild working relationships
  • undertaken disciplinary investigations and produced reports on our findings
  • been present with clients during disciplinary, grievance and appeals hearings which have been sensitive, emotional and sometimes lengthy
  • actively discussed potential outcomes to disciplinary hearings with clients so they can decide on what they consider to be the appropriate response (ranging from no action to summary dismissal)
  • developed responses to grievances including action plans for both the employer and the employee who raised the grievance
  • spoken to external agencies to get practical support for individuals which the employer can’t provide
  • delivered content-appropriate, post-event briefings to staff to minimise rumours and misunderstandings and to help people to learn from the situation
  • prepared correspondence including letters and notes of meetings
  • calmed frayed nerves and tempers
  • provided tissues, hot and cold drinks and “dutch courage”

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